The Benefits of Acoustical Site Visits During Construction

The Benefits of Acoustical Site Visits During Construction

A visit from an acoustical consultant can bring peace of mind to developers — and peace and quiet to the people who will eventually live and work in the building being constructed. Find out how a timely site visit from an acoustician can prevent costly remediation and help your building meet requirements and function as intended.

For building projects, success begins at the design stage. Architects, mechanical designers, structural engineers, lighting designers, acousticians, and other consultants work together to review the design and share their perspectives. It’s natural for each team to focus on the details that relate to their discipline, so multiple reviews are staged throughout the design process to satisfy the requirements of each consultant.

Once the design is finalized, it’s up to the contractors to build it. Like the complementary perspectives that exist among the design team, the contractors and trades also contribute their specialized knowledge and expertise to the project.

However, when it comes to noise control, few contractors look at a project through an acoustical lens. And why should they? Projects, for the most part, are physical realizations of the architect’s and developer’s vision. When people first come across a project, what they see can leave a lasting impression. It’s no wonder contractors often strive to support a good first impression.

Acoustics, though, cannot be seen, only heard. And what is heard (or not heard), goes a long way to establishing the project’s final impact and reputation. Acoustics is a specialization, and a visit from an acoustical specialist during the construction phase can help prevent issues such as excessive exterior noise ingress or room-to-room sound transmission before it’s too late.

Why Conduct an Acoustical Review During the Construction Phase?

Guidance from an acoustical expert can help your building function as intended. It can also add value to your project.

The BC Building Code has sound isolation requirements for residences. Hospitals, schools and other commercial buildings also often have their own sets of acoustical criteria. These standards exist to protect occupants from general annoyance, sleep disturbance, or even long-term health effects caused by noise. And, post-construction acoustical tests may be required to confirm that a building’s design criteria have been met.

If the criteria aren’t achieved, then the project may not satisfy building owners, inspectors, municipalities, or other regulating bodies. When this happens, the costs of remedial work can far exceed the cost of an acousticians input at this critical stage.

Moreover, if there are issues that could cause a building to fall short of the acoustical requirements, it’s easier — and less costly — to fix it during the construction phase.

When’s the Best Time for an Acoustical Site Visit?

The best time to have an acoustician undertake a review is during the wall-framing stage. Why? Because this is the point where acousticians can look for the telltale signs of a structure with acoustical issues. Framing techniques can be examined, and service noise issues such as plumbing and conduit can be identified and corrected before the walls are enclosed. Once the framing, services, and the adjoining elements are enclosed, it can be difficult to verify the cause of unwanted noise or vibration. No one wants to open up a finished wall to have a peek inside.

What Do We Look For?

While on site, acoustical consultants can look for problems that our specialized experience tells us may result in noise issues with the finished structure. We check to see that the acoustical design recommendations have been applied, and in accordance to the specifications.

Some of the details we check include:

  • Correct mounting of services pipes and ducts within studs or behind gypsum wallboard
  • Bridging of separated double-walls
  • Appropriate steel stud gauges in single-stud, high-STC walls
  • Appropriate flexible-caulking where required
  • Appropriate installation of electrical boxes
  • Penetrations or gaps in walls, floors, and ceilings
  • Vibration isolation

Vibration causes noise! Vibration isolation mounts reduce vibrational energy into building structures, and ultimately, the levels of structural noise that are transmitted. An acoustical review can confirm that the vibration isolation is adequate for the job, and properly installed.

Three Benefits of Construction Acoustical Reviews

Conducting acoustical reviews at key points during the construction of a project offers three benefits. First, reviews can identify issues that could be corrected during construction, the most cost-effective time to address these issues. Second, they can improve the likelihood that post-construction acoustical testing will achieve compliance with project and Building Code requirements. This can help you avoid potentially expensive remediation costs. And third, site visits can help a building to function as it was intended to. When this happens, the occupants experience a positive acoustical environment.

At BKL Consultants Ltd., we have been consulting on noise and vibration control since 1966. If you want to learn more about our services, including acoustical design and on-site reviews, please contact us.

Written by David Stepanavicius

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